Modern Vampires of the City
Paul Simon as an indie rocker? What if Paul Simon had adopted indie rock, or even college rock, instead of making Graceland? Those are the questions raised by the new Vampire Weekend.
Ezra Korning, like Simon, sounds like the English major he was in college. Like Simon, he’s added the nuances, musically and lyrically, sly, knowing, ironic, and wise that Paul Simon is famous for, and all of this comes as the band, has matured. This is a logical, yet somewhat unexpected progression from Contra, but an absolutely brilliant one.
Every track has something to like about it, and also to think about. All of that makes the album’s single “Diane Young” about a woman of the same name, which also could be a pun on Dying Young, and both are suggested by the lyrics. The vocals here are processed, maybe even with auto-tune. The track is a spiky rocker, and the only track where Ezra’s guitar is really heard. Please Ezra, more guitar. You play so well! I started out hating this song. It rapidly grew on me, and it sounds like nothing else on the album. That made me curious about the album, and made me love the song.
Hopefully, old fans won’t be scared off or let down by this change of direction, as this is VW’s most indie rock album yet. There is a lot to love here, on one of the best albums I’ve heard all year, and gives weight to my opinion that Vampire Weekend are one of the finest bands in the US. If people would stop loathing them for being preppy Ivy Leaguers, for the band has moved far beyond, “Diane Young” would be their first top 40 hit, and their album hailed as a masterpiece.